Dining on Stones
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Dining on Stones is Iain Sinclair's sharp, edgy mystery of London and its environs. Andrew Norton, poet, visionary and hack, is handed a mysterious package that sees him quit London and head out along the A13 on an as yet undefined quest. Holing up in a roadside hotel, unable to make sense of his search, he is haunted by ghosts: of the dead and the not-so dead; demanding wives and ex-wives; East End gangsters; even competing versions of himself. Shifting from Hackney to Hastings and all places in-between, while dissecting a man's fractured psyche piece by piece, Dining on Stones is a puzzle and a quest - for both writer and reader. "Exhilarating, wonderfully funny, greatly unsettling - Sinclair on top form". (Daily Telegraph). "Prose of almost incantatory power, cut with Chandleresque pithiness". (Sunday Times). "Spectacular: the work of a man with the power to see things as they are, and magnify that vision with a clarity that is at once hallucinatory and forensic". (Independent on Sunday). Iain Sinclair is the author of Downriver (winner of the James Tait Black Memorial Prize and the Encore Award); Landor's Tower; White Chappell, Scarlet Tracings; Lights Out for the Territory; Lud Heat; Rodinsky's Room (with Rachel Lichtenstein); Radon Daughters; London Orbital, Dining on Stones, Hackney, that Rose-Red Empire, and Ghost Milk. He is also the editor of London: City of Disappearances.
boozer, a drinking fountain, a dowser with kit improvised from industrial debris. Barking Abbey, where teenage dealers make their moves among preserved ruins, offers spiritual benediction to a major retail park, a shopping city on the banks of the River Roding. The dead lie quiet. Gravestone craft, in relief, under full sail, make for the Thames. The Abbey was founded in AD 666 by St Ekenwald. A date whose ominous significance was justified by the pagan Danes: fire and sword. All the history
through the village of Benfleet with its church (St Mary’s), its graveyard and ‘licensed’ Dickens restaurant. Broad verges, bare trees coming into flower. The long curve to the red tower with its booster mast, the glimpse of the river and the sudden remembrance of the A13: back on the road. The pilgrims – Jimmy, Danny, Track – ploughed on in grim silence. The job had to be completed, miles of suburban sprawl, half-towns, broken country. Shops and cafés they won’t have time to enter. A day’s
of a liminal world that commuters and salaried slaves had no time to notice. I read the A13 as a semi-celestial highway, a Blakean transit to a higher mythology, a landscape of sacred mounds and memories. (And endured the derision that brought.) Danny smiled. ‘The road’s an irritant, really. More noise and nuisance than anything else. When you live on it.’ I had to interrogate the Nicholson myself, Danny insisted. ‘Controlled subjectivity’ was the name of the game. ‘Don’t take the map too
window to drive. It’s like trying to pack a slaughtered steer in a tumble-dryer. Poor Kaporal was trapped in a Mike Leigh script – dysfunctional lowlife, bad food, wretched weather – directed by Michael Winner. The only part of it that played was the location. The theatre itself, Hollywood Chinese without Rin-Tin-Tin’s paw prints, was a relic of the Thirties: freshly painted red lacquerware, wavy orange roof tiles and pointy bits (like German helmets). The sea. The cliff with the tropical
is an elephants’ graveyard for science fiction and fantasy writers. I’ve heard the names of the famous living ones (the published): Storm Constantine (a Moorcock collaborator) and Christopher Priest (aka John Luther Novak, Colin Wedgelock, etc.). A town of slippery identity, clearly. A place for disinvention, winding down, cultivating writers’ block as a definitive condition. Earlier romancers included: Aleister Crowley (Moonchild), Sir Henry Rider Haggard, George MacDonald and the aunt-visiting